Timber companies polluting natives’ vital water source

By Roselind Jarrow, Free Malaysia Today

BARAM: Two government-licensed timber companies operating in Sarawak’s Long Panai region are polluting a water catchment area that is vital to the natives’ survival. For the past one month natives from the 115-door longhouse of Uma Beluvo had to contend with murky water due to works on an oil palm plantation near their water catchment area.

“We rely rain water for domestic use, otherwise we have to make do with the murky water,” said Ding Laeng, a Kayan from the longhouse situated at the bank of the Tutoh River in Baram.

He said that several other longhouses were also affected. The water catchment area was developed with the health department for the longhouse community in 1987.

It is situated about three miles from their longhouse. He said that more than a year ago Samling Timber Sdn Bhd started to clear the area for tree-planting under a provisional lease (PL) licence from the state government.

The license was issued without the natives’ prior consent.

“We could only request that the company does not encroach into our NCR land and water catchment area,” he said.

“But in 2007 another company, Pusaka KTS, was appointed to carry out oil palm plantation at another area which is also part of our NCL/NCR land.